William H. “Bill” Gross, over the last twenty-four years, has become one of the world’s most famous and accomplished philatelists. His many remarkable collections and exhibits have garnered international recognition and admiration. With his support, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has risen to new heights of prominence among the world’s cultural institutions.
The first auction in which Mr. Gross made his mark in a serious way was the 1993 sale of the Ryohei Ishikawa collection of United States 1847–1869 Issues. We attended the sale, which was held in the lavish main auction gallery of Christie’s in New York, and executed bids for Mr. Gross on most of the important lots from Ishikawa’s collection. Two years later, we were back in New York bidding for Mr. Gross in the Siegel firm’s landmark auction of the famous Honolulu Advertiser collection, which was held during the evening in the Hotel Pierre’s ballroom. It was an exciting night for everyone.
It is difficult to believe that those auctions were held more than two decades ago. Over the course of the past quarter-century, working with Mr. Gross to build his various collections, we have observed that he has always been especially fond of his Hawaii. The instantly recognizable Hawaiian Missionary stamps and their fascinating history have always captivated collectors, but the extreme rarity of these classic issues makes it difficult for more than a few collectors to own them, and nearly impossible for any collector to own more than a few of them.
The ten Hawaiian Missionary items in this auction will surely be viewed as the stars of the collection and, without question, this offering during World Stamp Show will be one of the highlights of the entire event. We cannot think of a better way to create a splash than to hold this auction on Sunday, May 29, the day after the exhibition kicks off. In 2007, Bill Gross and his wife, Sue, began the process of selling his many worldwide collections and donating the sale proceeds to various charities or non-profit organizations that have special meaning to them. To date there have been seven highly successful auctions, along with the recently announced private sale of his magnificent Switzerland collection. These sales have generated nearly $25,000,000, and every dollar has gone to important humanitarian and cultural institutions, such as Doctors Without Borders, Millennium Villages Project at the Earth Institute, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. The combination of philately and philanthropy has produced wonderful results. Mr. and Mrs. Gross will continue their tradition of gift-giving by donating all of the proceeds of this auction to two groups, the Hawaii Foodbank and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. We hope the bidders and buyers will help make this sale another success, knowing that the proceeds will benefit worthy causes. Now, a further word about this collection and World Stamp Show.
Mr. Gross decided to leave the arena of competitive exhibiting, but he still enjoys sharing the rare stamps and covers from his collection with others who would otherwise never see them. That has always been his favorite part of exhibiting. At World Stamp Show, Mr. Gross is excited to display three frames in the Court of Honor, featuring many of the rarest items in United States philately. He hopes everyone, from advanced collectors to children attending with their parents, will take time to visit the Court of Honor and look at all of the outstanding material on display, contributed by him and other collectors.